My time at Eastern University encouraged my passion for pursuing social justice. Their mission statement is “Faith, Reason, and Justice.” Through my time there and watching my sister-in-law as she worked in urban education, I was inspired to teach in an urban environment. I put on my “White Savior” hat and gallantly rode into the city of Philadelphia each day to help close the achievement gap between rich and poor, white and black. My intentions were pure, but my ignorance was ‘aplenty.
During my time working at Mastery Charter School, I was asked to join the cultural context committee. I went to afterschool training sessions with the other committee members where we were equipped to bring the training back to our campuses. I presented to teams of teachers on what I learned to help all of us on our journeys in becoming more racially aware.
My time on that committee, strengthened my bond with one of the most incredible teachers, Brooke Vaught. She kindly encouraged my learning as I realized how little I knew about race relations. She graciously encouraged me as I stumbled my way through and dug deeper into the discomfort of my responsibility as a member in the race doing the oppressing to become educated, speak up, and amplify the voices of those already doing the hard work of racial reconciliation. Her repeated reminder of “You don’t know what you don’t know” was an offering of kindness to me as I realized how unintentionally ignorant I was.
For anyone reading this who says, “Oh, but I’m colorblind,” that thinking has long been outdated. To be colorblind is to not embrace, celebrate and appreciate the beauty of the diversity God created when He spoke us into being. See color. Celebrate color. Commit to learning about the history of color and the struggles POC still face today.
Now that I don’t work in such a diverse environment, the opportunity for growth isn’t as easily accessible. I also realized I was relying too much on people of color to educate me. It isn’t their burden to bear to teach every white person they encounter. We have to be willing to do the work ourselves so we can join them in their fight for equality.
I’ve started my journey with podcasts and I think it’s a great entry point. You’re exposed to a variety of topics and speakers in a short amount of time.
Here are the ones I’m committed to listening to from start to finish:
- Truth’s Table: Hosted by three women of color, they explore race through the lens of faith. I’ve already listened to the first few episodes and found myself vigorusly nodding in agreement often, especially through their episode on Biblical Resistance. The discussion on why Christians are created to resist injustice was so powerful. Christians are repenters. Repenting is resisting your own sinful nature. Repenters are by nature, resisters.
- Pod Save the People: Everything I’ve read while researching this process has recommended this podcast. From their website: “Organizer and activist DeRay McKesson explores news, culture, social justice, and politics through deep conversations with influencers and experts, and the weekly news with fellow activists Brittany Packnett and Sam Sinyangwe, and writer Clint Smith.” A podcast that dissects current events through the guidance of activists is a necessity. Its human nature to surround yourself with people who are similar to you. It’s easy to think you’re in the right when everyone around you thinks and acts the same way you do. Actively seeking out voices who will present different viewpoints is a must.
- Chasing Justice: “Our intent is not for the podcast to be preachy but exploratory of ideas and methods that are worth considering as we fight for justice as it pertains to God’s kingdom and not humanity’s. Join us on this journey and hear from those that you are familiar with, those you are unfamiliar with, those you agree, and disagree with, those who may offend you and those who will inspire hope as we explore what it means to chase Justice Together.” Ummm. So much yes to this. If anyone should be on the frontlines of fighting for justice, it’s Christians. I’m so ready to be offended and inspired.
- For the Love by Jen Hatmaker: While her podcast is not focused solely on race issues, she had three guests that are an absolute must listen. The first is Latasha Morrison, the second is Lisa Sharon Harper and the third is Austin Channing Brown. Latasha’s episode encouraged me to join the “Be the Bridge to Racial Unity” Facebook group and it has been incredibly enlightening. I’ve found myself defending posters (in my head because there’s a rule of three months of silent participation) and then realizing that defensive response was something I needed to unpack and learn from. They have a huge host of resources which is where many of the recommendations for this post come from. I can’t recommend this group enough. Lisa’s episode explored whiteness and what it means to be white. It can be hard to swallow but essential for white people to listen to and absorb. This good word from Lisa stopped me in my tracks, “You can’t say you’re under the reign of God while you are simultaneously crushing the image of God on earth.” Austin’s message of looking back to move forward addresses the common excuse people have of wanting to stop talking about the past. Austin says, “The truth is, you can’t fix what you don’t talk about, right? You can’t fix injustice if you’re not going to talk about what the injustice was.”
Up next, I’m sharing the books on my reading list to further my walk to becoming actively anti-racist. Would you be interested in joining a virtual book club? I’d like to read one book a month and then meet online to discuss reactions, challenges and questions we may have after reading for about an hour after kid’s bedtimes and most likely on Facebook. It would be open to EVERYONE! The more diversity in age, race, religion, and gender; the better! Let me know if you’d be interested. The first book on my list is “I’m Still Here” by Austin Channing Brown.
I’d love to hear if you’re already on your journey to learning more about race relations today or if you’re feeling inspired to get started!